For the past 15 years, New York Jewish Week has published a list of 36 Jews to Watch. This year, I'm on the list! You can just stop reading now and go see for yourself here.
I encourage you to look at the whole list, because WOW, they chose an amazing group of people. I am so honored! It feels good to be recognized, but to be listed among this cohort of "changemakers" makes it even better.
Here's a little more info about the award from the publication:
For the past 15 years, the New York Jewish Week has honored remarkable Jewish New Yorkers for their contributions in the arts, religion, culture, business, politics and philanthropy. The goal was clear: to identify the young innovators who are remaking the Jewish community, or contributing to society in ways that draw upon their diverse Jewish identities and sensibilities.
They join a group of individuals, including some you may know and others you should, who together paint a portrait of a city, and its Jewish community, reinventing itself after a period of loss and upheaval.
I love this explanation, especially the last sentence. My doodles came from a dark place, yet they make me happy. They started in 2020. I was anxious and scared. The Haggadah I made was inspired by a three-person seder my family hosted in April of 2020. And, if I go further back, the way I celebrated Jewish holidays was forever changed by losing my mom in 2015. Now, when it comes to celebrating Jewish holidays, or just everyday life, I look to my community to help fill that enormous void. And somehow, cartoons help.
Jewish Week included some of my answers — probably the best ones. But, I included those that didn't make the cut below.
Who is your New York Jewish hero?
My great-grandma Bea is my New York Jewish hero for her invovlement in Jewish community and hosting all holiday dinners.
She lived near Grand Army Plaza (where I used to live) and then on the Upper East Side (where I currently live). She was known in my family for hosting holiday dinners, in the Jewish community for her involvement, which included founding a temple in Brooklyn, and in education for being a New York City public school teacher. She was funny, brave, and independent and lived to 101. I like to think that, in my own way, I am following in her footsteps.
What’s a fun/surprising fact about you? (I included a few!)
1) I grew up going to Chabad of the Rivertowns for Hebrew school and continued my education after my Bat Mitzvah, where I volunteered as a Hebrew reading teacher. It was a warm, supportive, and inclusive community.
2) My dad is a South African Jew. South African culture was a big part of my life growing up. I’ve taken all of my favorite dolls, masks, and art from our house and they’re featured throughout my apartment.
Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?
I went on Birthright a few months after graduating college. In college, I went to Hillel, but I didn’t have the strong Jewish community I grew up with. Going on the birthright trip reminded me how much I needed that in my adult life as a “post-grad.” As soon as I got back to New York, I started attending Jewish events in the City and making new Jewish friends to build my NYC Jewish community. I started hosting Shabbat dinners, which not only made me feel connected to the Jewish community, but also a connector of people within the Jewish community.
Do you have a favorite inspiring quote?
“If they won’t let you in, or it doesn’t exist, create it yourself.” My dad has always said some version of this, and it’s always motivated me to do my own thing.
What is your favorite place to eat Jewish food in New York?
Katz’ Deli — I’ve had so many memorable meals there. It never gets old.
What is your favorite book about New York?
My book, “Don’t Fuhaggadahboudit”
In one sentence, what was your best experience as a Jewish New Yorker?
Connecting with rapper Kosha Dillz on Instagram, delivering my Haggadahs to his apartment, then joining his seder and rapping with him in his backyard.
What’s your favorite place in New York to take an out-of-town guest?
The New York City Ferry — a lot of people have never been on it, and it’s a thrill! Plus the Highline, Levain, Ess-a-bagel, and Bohemian Beer Garden.
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